The journey from Khao Sok to Koh Phi Phi was typical of travelling around Thailand. A seemingly ad hoc arrangement of minibuses, coaches and taxis took us from the National Park to Krabbi - one of the major tourist hubs for those attempting to get to one of Thailand's many islands - and whilst the trip was somewhat arduous, including quite a few stops at conveniently placed restaurants, the sheer number of people travelling this way has sanded the whole process down until it's smooth as oil. I marvelled, as I sat in the main interchange restaurant in Krabbi, at the fifty year old transport general who commanded entire squadrons of tourists, drivers and minivans towards what I can only hope was their final destination using nothing more than sticky labels and what must be the most fearsome memory on this side of the equator.
Eventually we were dropped off at the ferry terminal and boarded the boat that would take us to Phi Phi. It was a pleasant ride, on a beautiful day, and we pulled into the working harbour of the island in the early afternoon. Phi Phi itself looks like a dumbbell (if you put your mind to it) and the two main land masses are connected via a long causeway of floury sand, the north beach of which was undoubtably the prettiest.
Phi Phi is renowned as one of the capitals of the 'Party Island' chain, and is almost entirely dedicated to getting Westerners, particularly Americans, dangerously intoxicated as cheaply as possible. Particularly delightful are the children's buckets, within which are placed litre bottles of spirits, a mixer and a straw, that most people are carrying with them after 9PM. We largely abstained from anything too raucous, choosing to enjoy the sun and sand at reasonable hours like the sensible people that we are. I was also beginning to come down with a bug that put paid to any alcohol fuelled antics whilst we were on the island.
Whilst our hotel was nice and cutely presented, as an array of little beach huts set around a boardwalk, I actually found Phi Phi a little disappointing. It felt like a slightly refined iteration of the Ibiza model of island entertainment, focused primarily on nightlife and ensuring that visitors had as easy a time as possible. A good percentage of the shops were staffed by Western people, all of the signage was in English and the food was safely positioned to ensure that those that need pizza in a regular basis could easily get ahold of it. It'll sound pretentious, but after my exposure to the cultural highs of the previous trips, it all seemed a little tacky.
Anyways the beaches were nice and clean, and surprisingly glass free given the night time regime, so we spent our days reading, relaxing and watching a muscular man perform yoga way out in the bay. It takes all sorts I suppose.
On to Ko Lanta.